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Importance of negative keywords

What is a negative keyword?

Negative keywords are used to tell Google Ads which search terms are not relevant. You can prevent your ad from showing for audiences you know won’t be interested. Negative keywords allow you to establish search terms for which you do NOT want your ads to be displayed. This gives you greater control over campaign optimisation helping you reach the most appropriate prospects whilst lowering your Google Ad costs. You can reduce wasted clicks and create more opportunities to display within relevant searches that could lead to conversions.,

For example, if you were advertising your “coach handbags”, you want to ensure all the people Googling to find the services of a “business coach” or “sports coach” aren’t shown your ad so you’d probably include “business” and “sports” in your negative keyword list. Nor would you want your ad to appear in the search of someone looking to take a coach trip in your region.


3 ways to use Google Ad negative keywords


Filtering out irrelevant traffic

The most obvious use for negative keywords is to avoid your ads being shown to people who are looking for something other than your product or service.  An obvious and potentially frequent example is “jobs”

Someone looking for a job would typically include search terms such as “career”, “job” and “jobs” in their search query. By adding these as negative keywords, you can eliminate job seekers from finding (and clicking on) your Google ads.


Job-related negative keywords examples include:

Job Jobs
Recruit Recruitment
Intern Internship
Career Careers
Hire Hiring
Salary Salaries


Targeting the most valuable audiences

If you have an expensive product or service, you’d possibly prefer not to show your Google Ad to users searching for cheaper alternatives. Negative keywords may be used to avoid searches that are specifically searching for “free”, “cheap” or “low cost” Simply add “free” to your negative keyword list, then tell Google Ads not to display your ad in any user search containing the term “free.”

Using the same example as earlier a supplier of Coach handbags has advertised for the query “free coach”. The audience using this search is unlikely to be looking for an expensive Coach handbag even at a discount price and so is unlikely to click through this ad and convert.

Low Value-related negative keywords examples include:

Low price Low cost
Outlet Cut-price
Bargain Budget
Cheap Cheapest
Inexpensive Discount







On the other hand, if you are specifically selling low -priced options or targeting those seeking a free trial such as for software or discount option you may opt to exclude the other end of the scale. For example, if you were selling affordable apartments you may have a negative keyword list that included “luxury”, “luxurious”, “exclusive”, “stylish”. “elegant”, “Stunning”, “dream home” etc.,


Avoid problems from inappropriate associations


You simply don’t want some keywords associated alongside your brand. Adding potentially sensitive or adult keywords to your negative keyword list helps prevent any PR mishaps arising from your ad inadvertently displaying in potentially problematic search queries.


Keyword bids for your Ad is only half the job

The success of your Google Ad also depends on having a well thought out and researched list of negative keywords that you expand and refine based on real data feedback. Finding the relevant negative keywords does take a bit of time and effort. There’s really no getting away from it. Avoid going to the biggest list of negative keywords you can find and en masse copy and pasting them into your list. Build negative keywords meticulously to ensure their relevance to your Google Ads campaign without curtailing your legitimate reach and you should quickly see the difference. The main reason behind using negative keywords is that it will save you money, but there are other additional benefits.

  • Because your Google Ads will NOT be shown for keyword phrases that are irrelevant to your target market your overall click-through rate (CTR) will be higher, i.e. more people who see your ad will click on it.
  • A higher CTR will likely mean your ad is positioned higher on the page without having to pay a higher Cost per Click (CPC).
  • As the audience is more relevant a higher % of click-throughs’ should convert
  • Good use of negative keywords helps avoid displaying in inappropriate search listings


Building a powerful negative keywords list is a crucial stage and it’s unavoidable if you’re serious about running successful Google Ads. Make the most of your budget and carefully curate a negative keywords list for all your campaigns, preferably starting NOW.

If you’d like help in managing your Google Ads contact us